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September 14 2010

'Firefly' Rewind - 'Serenity' (the motion picture). TV critic Alan Sepinwall offers a "rewind" review of Serenity.

Meh. Alan's reviews always tend to leave me a bit cold.
And I always like them, even when I don't agree with them.
Personally I think an actual rewind review might be more interesting. "Why is River bringing those Reavers back to life with her Ballet Axe ?" and "Wash can shoot tree trunks out of his chest !! How could we not know this ?!".
@Dana5140 - its not that I agree or disagree with them, they're just kind of trite and uninteresting. TWOP does better.

@Saje - See, now THAT would be funny.
I've been following all of Alan's Firefly reviews over the summer. He always offers an interesting take, even when I don't agree with everything he says. He almost always notices something I didn't before, even though I've rewatched Firefly some dozen or more times.
He does perpetuate the myth that the fans had much to do with the movie getting made, but he's got some good insights (and defends Wash's death in the way I've been defending it for years)
But the fans did help get the movie remade, by their vocal support. It was knowledge of the fanbase that certainly played a role in helping a failed TV show get turned into a movie.
Hmmm, never noticed before how much Mal's speech about "love keeping her up" resembles Angel's voice-over about passion in the episode "Passion."
Saje, you didn't know about Wash's tree-shooting chest? Where have you been?
I didn't mind Alan's take on Firefly and others, but I think he's certainly more in his element when discussing Mad Men and other more naturalistic dramas - he's awesome with Friday Night Lights.

F_TB, TWoP is a recap site though. Alan doesn't recap, he reviews. I find it hard to compare. I probably prefer Alan slightly, but I read TWoP's short recaps fairly often as well.
@Jaymii - I mentioned the TWOP one b/c their Serenity recap was as much review as recap (and not at all short), and while snarky in the extreme was really insightful as well and defintely made me take a closer look at and think about some things in the film I hadn't thought about before. That's kind of what I like in a review. Alan comes close occasionally, but mostly he seems to keep to the surface of things, he doesn't analyze as much or as well as I would expect from a review as opposed to a recap. I'm very critical when it comes to critics ;) What I do like though is many of the commenters on that site, there's usually a few neat discussions going on.
Saje, you didn't know about Wash's tree-shooting chest? Where have you been?

Clearly in the place where fingers are non pulse adjacent. Nobody tells me nothin'.

As to the review itself, i'm kind of with F_TB - there's nothing particularly wrong with it (it's well written if maybe slightly uninspired prose) but there's not much new and nothing particularly insightful IMO, mainly just recap, opinions (no problem with that obviously, it's a review after all) or "insights" that're actually also recap (of either the film itself or ancillary material like commentaries etc.) e.g.

"What makes those action sequences special isn't just that they look cool, but that all the moments are tied to character in some way: Mal is using the Alliance's deep dark secret against it by luring the Reavers to fight the Operative."

Well yeah, that's acknowledged within the text when Mal says "Chickens come home to roost" (though I agree it's a good quality). River's catharsis (and its "My turn" culmination) is well covered in a few places. Wash's death, sure, various people have observed that it's basically him or Kaylee since it has to be someone that really doesn't "deserve" it, someone that'll hurt when they go. Re: Zoe I actually just disagree with him though (she was acting from grief and rage - and maybe a slight death-wish - rather than "... being her amazing warrior woman self as she goes after the Reavers" because that's just not how she fights, she's very cool-headed normally, the epitome of a professional soldier. Mal is the brash, charging, bull-at-a-gate, all fire and momentum, Zoe's the quietly efficient knife between the ribs that you never even hear coming).

I don't particularly blame the author BTW, the film's 5 years old (this month, yay ;) and the subject of a lot of scrutiny amongst fans as well as published background material, companion books, essays etc. so new insights are thin on the ground but still, it is what it is.

That said, I didn't know (and somehow missed on several viewings) that the guy they left behind was Glenn Howerton from "It's Always Sunny..." so that's new info.

(also, minor nitpick, The Operartive doesn't have a broken back at any point, it's surely clear to most viewers that Mal dislocates his shoulders. Which, y'know, still with the ouchies but we're not talking miraculous recovery from a spinal injury so not a plot-hole, just a misapprehension by Mr Sepinwall)
Saje, I was waiting for someone to mention the "not a broken back" bit of the interview. I remember my surprise at hearing Joss and Nathan(?) in commentary expressing confusion as to how someone would watch the scene and think Mal broke the Operative's back. I have watched that scene 20 times and I still think that is exactly what it looks like every time.
Same in reverse for me - it looked like dislocated shoulders in the cinema the first time and has done every time since (popping someone's arms backwards at the shoulder has to be a pretty odd way to break their back - is it even possible to do it that way, with normal human strength ?).

Mileage varies and all that though ;).
ManEnoughToAdmitIt, count me as another who agrees with Alan's take on Wash's death - it's such a brilliant change from the endless Hollywood action movies where all the heroes emerge from the chaos with maybe a scratch. People complaining about Wash tends to drive me mad, when I believe it's one of the things most key to making the film brilliant.

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